Source: The Rio Times
By Saira Ansari, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Situated in a little street in Tijuca is an under-construction building with a door made up of several nailed planks holding up the entrance gate. This humble structure is the site for the Tijuca Mosque – home of the Sociedade Beneficente Muculmana SBMRJ (Beneficent Muslim Society) – which was formed in 1951. The mosque is called Mesquita da Luz, which means the Mosque of Light.
The mosque originally operated from a much smaller space that was located in Centro. It then moved to the Rio’s Zona Norte (North Zone) to a much larger structure to accommodate the growing number of Muslims in attendance. According to the mosque representative there are about 500 Muslim families in Rio, comprised of immigrants as well as locals.
Islam first came to Brazil with the large number of African slaves that were brought in by the Portuguese – a number, some scholars argue, much higher than any Muslim-African slave trade in any other part of the Americas.
Today, the Muslims of Brazil are in a much better place, and like many cosmopolitan cities of the world, Rio is a multicultural hotspot where people of all nationalities, races, ethnicity and beliefs come together. What sets Rio among the warmest of cities is the way the Cariocas embrace this diversity with friendly heart.